Celebration June 7

Maybe not technically true, but if clients and staff at Gulf County Senior Citizens believe Debbie Sumner has been part of the place forever, well, she nearly has.

Sumner will retire next week after 27 years with the agency that provides a host of services to seniors in the county.

“You name it, Debbie has done it,” said Russ Scholz, executive director of Gulf County Senior Citizens. “She is a wonderful, outstanding employee.

“In the last three inspections we have undergone, there have been no deficiencies found in her programs. That is the kind of employee she is.”

The agency will celebrate Sumner’s last day 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. June 7 at the Port St. Joe facility with a “drop-in-for-a-coffee” time to wish Sumner well and thank her for nearly three decades of service.

She started at the Senior Citizens Center in 1991 as a case worker under the Older American Act, congressional legislation providing employment opportunities for older citizens.

“As people left over the years, everything just kind of fell on her,” Scholz said.

That included providing meals at both the facilities and on wheels to the homes of folks unable to get out.

Sumner also provides a host of in-home services for clients, became a center director for a time and took over as site manager at the Wewahitchka facility for a period.

Her work, Scholz said, has been observed both in front of and behind the scenes, always willing to lend a hand or undertake a project to boost the agencies services.

And along the way became an indispensable part of many clients’ lives.

“They love her,” Scholz said of the clients at the center. “I could not have asked for a better person. She is going to be missed.”

And, the agency, Scholz said, is not financially able to provide much in the way of retirement benefits or parting gifts for that 27 years of dedication, so Scholz is hoping that those who know and have worked with Sumner through the years will come out next Thursday, just to say goodbye.